Q & A - Dwight Ave. Sidewalk & Trees
On September 23rd, the City held a community information session to discuss the plan for the installation of a sidewalk on Dwight Avenue between Birmingham Street and Maple Boulevard. You can view the presentation slides below.
Below are a list of questions and answers from the meeting:
Why is the City building a new sidewalk on the west side of Dwight Ave.? ANSWER: Dwight Ave is classified as a collector road. City policy calls for sidewalks on both sides of collector roads. In 2016, Transportation Services received a request from the TDSB through the previous Trustee to install a new sidewalk on Dwight Avenue between Birmingham Street and Maple Boulevard. A sidewalk request was also included in the Second Street JMS Travel Plan, and a sidewalk at this location would provide a safe walking environment around the school. Dwight Avenue was programmed for construction in 2021 based on the opportunity to bundle the project with construction on Birmingham, Murrie, and Heman Streets.
Why are the trees going to be removed? ANSWER: The trees that are recommended for removal would not be able to withstand construction related impacts. Additionally, seven of the twelve trees are Norway Maple Trees, which are considered an invasive and damaging species in ravines, on streets, and in courtyards. They are actively being removed throughout the city. Three of the trees are European Ash Trees. There is currently a suspension of planting this species of tree on City owned property due to the Emerald Ash Borer forest pest, and it's likely that ash trees in the city will require removal in the next 5-10 years to ensure public safety.
What alternative design options had the City considered? Curbside sidewalk: Trees middle of the boulevard, tree removal is still required and the design would decrease comfort level for pedestrians using sidewalk. Reduce the width of the sidewalk to 1.5m: Given the location of the trees and roots, excavation of the critical root zone is still required and the thus trees will require removal. Reduced road width: Road reconstruction is not programmed in the near term and road width constraints exist based on the City’s Road Engineering Design Guidelines: Lane Widths Guidelines. Sidewalk on school property: Issues with drainage towards TDSB property, removal of fence likely to result in tree injury, and undesirable pedestrian path as sidewalk would travel through school parking lot.
Can the sidewalk be a winding asphalt path, as you see in city parks, instead of a linear concrete sidewalk? ANSWER: The City had considered this option, but it would still require excavation, which would require the trees to be removed. Furthermore, the area is not large enough to wind the sidewalk, and this would also impact accessibility. Asphalt is not as durable and it disintegrates over time, which impacts both accessibility and the longevity of the sidewalk.
Why can't Dwight Ave. be narrowed to accommodate the sidewalk? ANSWER: Almost half of the block has a dedicated left-hand turn lane. Assessing the impact of removing the turning lane would require a traffic study. Construction work involved in narrowing the roadway would pose an impact to other trees on the corridor, due to the heavy equipment and work to reconstruct the road. In addition, shifting the curb line further east will still require regrading on the west boulevard work to ensure proper drainage which will cause root damage and removal of the trees.
What is the tree replanting plan? ANSWER: 17 trees will replace the 12 that are onsite now. The City is proposing to plant 6 common Horse-Chestnut Trees, 5 Red Oak Trees, and 6 Valley Forge Elm Trees, as these are the species that are expected to adapt well in the community. The trees proposed are large shade trees, and are the largest size that can be planted on the City right-of-way.
Can the City also install garbage bins as part of the sidewalk installation project? ANSWER: We will submit this request to Street Furniture department.
Why can't the school's fence be relocated, to accommodate the sidewalk on school property? ANSWER: This would impact the school's parking lot, community garden and would reduce the play space. There are also existing catch basin on the boulevard between the trees, causing drainage issues. The removal of the fence would likely result in tree injury, and excavation for the sidewalk would still damage the root system.
Are there any 3D renderings available of what the completed product will look like? ANSWER: Staff are going to create renderings, which will be shared with the community once completed.
What is the scheduled tree removal date? ANSWER: A removal date has not yet been scheduled, as the project was placed on hold by Councillor Grimes for the purpose of holding a public meeting.
Has the city considered using soil cells and/or permeable pavement when putting in new sidewalks where trees are going to be re-planted? ANSWER: Yes, the City does build soil cells, but there is enough soil volume onsite, and the current compacted soil will be removed to introduce a better soil mix. Soil cells are typically used in areas where there is a lot of concrete, such as in the downtown core. Permeable products are not recommended as they tend to disintegrate faster, which could impact accessibility.
Can the City consider introducing traffic calming measures in the area to improve overall safety? ANSWER: Yes, as part of the City's Vision Zero program, Second Street Junior Middle School is in-que to be a designated School Safety Zone in 2022. A School Safety Zone is a designated stretch of roadway which includes school safety zone signs and a variety of measures such as watch your speed signs, improved pavement makings, flashing beacons, among other possible improvements. Requests for other community traffic calming measures such as speed humps, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. A request will be made to include the area in the mobile Watch Your Speed Program (WYSP) sign program.